A census done in 1692, shows that Nicolaas Cleef had been settled on a farm known as de Groote Zalze, just outside Stellenbosch on the banks of the Blaauwklippen river since 1683. Cleef was born in Grosszalze, Germany, and married Barbara Lefevre, a Huguenot refugee of Fleurbaix, Belgium in 1684. By 1692, the family had planted 7,000 vines on de Groote Zalze. Nicolaas Cleef died in 1708 and his widow Barbara and their children Anna Catherina and Jochem, continued farming. For the next 20o years, the property changed hands numerous times, and eventually, Gilbeys Distillers and Vintners purchased two portions of the land and consolidated it into what is today known as Kleine Zalze.
In 1996 the Basson family bought Kleine Zalze and improved and developed the property whilst establishing a premium Stellenbosch wine brand. In 1996, the family also acquired the rest of the land, once known as de Groote Zalze. The winery’s philosophy has always been simple: success begins in the vineyards. Exceptional wines are made possible by selecting varieties and clones specifically suited to the various soils and slopes, and further careful management of the farm’s extensive natural assets. This continuous attention to detail culminated in Kleine Zalze achieving new heights in 2020 and being named Top Performing Winery of the Year by Platter’s South African wine guide, arguably the most comprehensive guide to South African wine in the world.